Artists and A.D.D.

Like many (maybe most) artists, I could be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. This doesn’t bother me since I don’t consider ADD a disorder at all. Rather, I see it as a sort of disposition we should recognize and adapt to.

As a writer, parent, student of human behavior, and college counselor, I have consistently observed that the primary trait of “ADD” folks is: we struggle to attend to anything that fails to grab our intense interest. Consequently, when faced with the relative drudgery of tending to business chores such as marketing (or, say, housekeeping) when I could otherwise be creating or dreaming, my mind incessantly slips away.

But if I carve out dedicated time, say a week or two between writing projects and, forsaking other pursuits, devote myself to marketing or home repair or whatever, I can the tweak my attitude so that, rather than viewing the tasks as a bunch of tedious chores, I see them as parts of a whole creative project. Then, I can plunge with some vigor, and even a bit of concentration, into the effort.

A favorite novelist of mine — Jim Thompson, author of such noir masterpieces as The Grifters and The Killer Inside Me — was a serious drinker who claimed he used sobriety to compel him to write his novels in a mad rush so he could get back to drinking.

My plunges into marketing are similar. I assign myself a set of tasks that together promise the fulfillment of a certain goal, and I attack them powered by the passionate desire to get back to dreaming up and writing down stories.

By the way, to get to know Jim Thompson (which every crime fiction fan should), follow this link to your free copy of Cars: California Stories, inside which is a true account of Thompson in San Diego during WW II.

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